Can you use WordPress categories and tags to improve your website’s SEO? That’s what we’re going to explore in this post. Why is this relevant in the first place? Because while WordPress taxonomies are a way to bring order to your content and make it more accessible, using them will also automatically create archived pages that will show up in search engines. To help you get the most out of them, below we’ll discuss the differences between taxonomies and tags, their impact on SEO, and best practices for using them.

Classification vs. Labeling: What’s the Difference?

If you’re not familiar with WordPress taxonomy and tags at all, let’s define them first. The first thing you should notice is that they often appear in different places on your WordPress site. For example, in many designs, they appear in the header or footer of an article.


 You can also often think of categories as clickable links in your blog sidebar.


There was also a time when people used to add so-called tag clouds to their websites. Thankfully, no one really does it now.

 How to create WordPress taxonomies and tags

How did these taxonomies first exist? You can create and configure them in the sidebar of the WordPress editor.


For categorization, just tick the box where you want to display the content. If you select more than one, WordPress may ask for a primary taxonomy, or you can create a new taxonomy on the fly by adding a new taxonomy link. Simply add a name, select a parent taxonomy (if applicable), and click the button to create it.

On the other hand, you need to enter the labels manually, and the number is unlimited. When you start writing, the editor also suggests existing tags. You can delete them by clicking on the small X icon.


Additionally, WordPress has a dedicated menu to manage both. You can find them under “Articles> “Categories” and “Articles” > “Tags”, respectively.


From here, you can add more or delete them, edit their names and slugs (i.e., their URL endings), and click on individual tags and categories to add more information. More on the last part below. As you’ve already seen from their path, categorization and tagging only apply to articles, not pages.

 What should you use the WordPress taxonomy for?

So, now that you know how to create and assign them, why even think about assigning taxonomies and tags to your content?

The purpose of both is the same: to help users find content and to help search engines understand your site structure. However, they work differently.

One of the main differences is that each article you publish must be assigned to a category. If you don’t, the WordPress will automatically save the default category, which has less than the useful name uncategorized default. Content, on the other hand, doesn’t have to have a single tag.

 Part of the reason is that each taxonomy serves a different purpose:

  • Categorization – Used for a wide grouping of articles. They usually describe the main topic of your blog, such as blogging, WordPress, social media, etc. They can also have sub-categories, so you can have security categories that belong to WordPress.
  • Tags – Their purpose is to add information specific to the content of the article to describe it better. Tags are like an index table of contents at the end of a book. An example of an article you’re reading is Categorization vs. Tags or WordPress SEO. When reading an article, you should understand what the article is about. There is also no hierarchy for tags, so there is no such thing as subtags.

Why are taxonomy and tags important for WordPress SEO?

Now that we know what they are, let’s explore why WordPress taxonomy is an SEO issue.

 Archive as a landing page

As mentioned in the introduction, WordPress automatically creates an archive for each taxonomy or tag (meaning assigned to at least one piece of content) that is actually used on your site. An archive is just a list of blog posts. However, unlike your main blog, they only list the content assigned to that category or tag.


Search engines will index them unless you specifically disable this feature using a WordPress SEO plugin or otherwise. This means that they have the potential to appear in people’s search results and could be the reason why someone clicked through to your site – or not.

This is often even more important for websites whose content changes frequently. When the rest of your pages are constantly changing and therefore also unstable in the search index, an archive can provide a constant that ranks well. For example, products, news, and job listings on an e-commerce site.

 They prevent page competition

When you have different pages that all focus on sections of the same topic, they automatically compete at least a little in the search results. For example, when you write several articles about different areas of WordPress SEO, they may all contain the term “wordpress SEO.”

So, if you optimize individual pages for your own keywords and then assign them all to the “WordPress SEO” category page, that page can rank for that term, and the pages below it can all be used for more specific keywords.

This is especially true for online stores. Here, you’ll usually sell a large number of products in the same assortment. However, you rarely want them to rank under a common umbrella term.

 URLs and breadcrumbs

Categories and, to a lesser extent, tags will also appear in other parts of your site. Most notably, URL structure and breadcrumbs, if you’ve already set them up. In the automatically created profile, they become part of the SLUG.


This tells search engines about the structure of your website and the important topics you want to establish authority for. With this information, your website can appear in relevant searches. The same goes for breadcrumbs, which are a great tool for improving the usability of your eCommerce website.


Best practices for SEO using WordPress categorization and tags

It should be obvious from the above that taxonomies can improve your SEO if used correctly. On the other hand, they can also backfire if used incorrectly.

So, if they’re so important, how do you make sure categorization and labeling help rather than hurt your ranking efforts? Let’s review some best practices.

 1. Rename the uncategorized category

We mentioned above that the default WordPress categorization is called Uncategorized, and if you don’t choose another categorization, every post you create will be automatically assigned to it. As you can imagine, this particular assorted name is meaningless to both your human visitors and the search spiders. It doesn’t add any value or clarification.

Therefore, the first task to improve WordPress SEO categorization and tag usage is to rename it. It’s easy, just go to Posts > Categories and use the quick edit feature or click on the category to edit its name and slug.


Try to find a generic term that applies to your website’s theme, preferably the main one, such as WordPress, digital marketing, or similar generalized terms.

Be careful, though. If you’ve already assigned a bunch of content, you may want to a) sort your articles and assign them to a more appropriate category, and b) redirect existing archives to a new URL.

 2. Limit the number of categories

Taxonomy and labeling are designed to make content more accessible, understandable, and searchable. However, if you use too many of them, it can backfire.

Ideally, you should have a maximum of eight to ten main categories on your blog. If you have more, your blog may lack focus, which can leave a bad impression on visitors and search engines. If you feel like you need to make further distinctions, consider using subcategories instead of opening more of the main topics. This will also improve your URL structure, as subcategories also appear in slugs.


For your website, the general reality also applies to individual content fragments. Try to limit each article to one to three categories. If you need more, your article may not be focused enough.

You should also limit the number of labels. Many websites end up with a large number of tags because they assign too many tags to their articles. That’s not a problem in and of itself, because that’s what they’re for. However, from a technical point of view, this often results in duplicate or streamlined content.

 Why is that?

Because, if a tag is used only once, it will be archived with the same article to which it belongs. So, think twice before marking. Try to reuse what you already have and limit the number of tags to a maximum of 10 per article.

Note: As mentioned earlier, you don’t have to use labels at all. Classification is mandatory, but labeling is completely optional. So, if you feel like they’re not adding any value to your website, feel free to avoid using them altogether. Another way is to add them for your visitors, but set their profiles noindex to not let them search.

 3. Add unique content to your category pages

To make category and tag pages more appealing to search engines, it helps to add unique content to them. The usual choice here is to include introductory content that explains their topic. This will also make these pages more satisfying for visitors.

How do you do that? Well, for that, we’re going to go back to the categories and tags menu on the WordPress backend. When you click on the name of one of the taxonomies, you are taken to a page where you can add a description to it.


Depending on your theme, this will appear at the top of your profile when you view them.


If the description doesn’t appear, you can also insert it into your page template via a the_archive_description hook.

Some themes, like the Genesis theme, also have extra features, such as allowing you to additionally customize the titles that will appear on the page.


This way, you won’t be bothered by the Category: Category Name format.

By the way, you don’t have to do this for every category page. While you can do it, it’s best to focus on the most important pages at first.

 4. Add an SEO title and description

If you want to take it a step further and really turn your categorized pages into landing pages, you can also add custom SEO titles and descriptions to them. An SEO plugin like Yoast SEO makes it easy for you to do just that, so you can actually target specific keywords using your taxonomy and tag archive pages.


They also allow you to see how your search snippets look in the SERPs, add custom information to your social media profiles, and more.

 5. Optimize your URL structure

In WordPress, you can easily set up your URL structure under Settings > Permalinks.


Until now, the default permalink structure was , /%postname%/ which resulted in a link like Alternatively, you can change it to , /%category%/%postname%/ which will make your article link look like

In most cases, the first option is the most ideal, and you should leave it as it is. If you’re used to reducing the article slug to three to five words, use only the second one, or the whole link will become too long.

If you’re running an online store, it makes more sense to include categories as well to help clarify your page content for visitors and search spiders. News sites that write about a limited number of topics may also benefit from using the classification.

Most importantly, however, you should hardly change the existing structure on an established site. If you do, you’ll need to set up redirects, which often cost more in terms of SEO than it gives you. If this applies to you, select the next point.

 6. Add breadcrumbs

If using categorization in URLs isn’t an option you want or shouldn’t pursue, a good option is to use breadcrumbs. As mentioned above, this is the link trail at the top of the page that shows visitors where they are on your site and helps them take a few steps back if necessary.


Not only is this very useful for visitors, but if implemented, search engines will also pick it up and display it.


 It’s basically the same structured information you’ll find in URLs.

 Summary: WordPress taxonomy and SEO

When used correctly, WordPress categories and tags can be a boon for your website SEO. They make your website’s theme and structure clearer and improve usability.

Above, we discussed the two types of taxonomies and their features, examined their role in SEO, and listed best practices for using them. Now, you’re ready to address these issues on your own website. Set aside some time to make sure your categorization and labeling work for you and not against you

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